SAR man loses job to police changes

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 13:00 13/07/2012

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Nelson's experienced assistant Search and Rescue co-ordinator Sherp Tucker has lost his job as police look at cutting non-sworn staff to save money.

Mr Tucker has worked for the police since 2000 and has been a Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteer since the 1960s.

Tasman police district commander Superintendent Richard Chambers confirmed this morning that Mr Tucker's job had been disestablished.

Mr Tucker said this morning he was unable to comment.

Mr Chambers said the Tasman police district was the only district which had a paid non-sworn SAR assistant co-ordinator.

He said he had put a lot of thought into making the decision, and had spoken with a lot of people before making it.

He said Mr Tucker had been a tremendous asset to the police and the SAR community for the past 10 years, and the Tasman district had been lucky to have him.

However, Mr Chambers said he wanted to ensure that the police's capability across SAR was spread across all resources.

"It comes down to me as district commander wanting to ensure my sworn staff in the field are the best that they can be leading any police-related operation, and that includes SAR, and I want to put the effort into the front line to ensure that."

Part of this was making sure police staff were given the time to speak to and get to know volunteers better, so SAR operations in the field were well led by police and supported by volunteers.

Mr Chambers said Mr Tucker's departure date was still being finalised.

He was mindful that it was important to make sure all that Mr Tucker had put in place was not lost.

"I want to continue to draw on what he has put into place and involve him as an expert in the field where I can, providing advice and guidance in the future.

"I still want to draw on his experience, and I'm sure many other SAR volunteers want this."

How this would be done was still being worked out.

Mr Chambers said the current economic climate meant police districts around the country had to look at the way they operated.

"In the climate we are operating in, we are very, very lucky as an organisation to hold our budget, our baseline. That still means we have to go through every year and find a better way of doing some things. As a district commander, I'm always looking for ways to make best use of taxpayer money."

This week a retiring Northland area commander criticised the police for being run as a business.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall yesterday rejected the claim, and said the force was run in a "business-like fashion".

"In these difficult economic times, police need to demonstrate good value for the $1.4 billion of hard-earned taxpayers' money invested in the organisation," Mr Marshall said.

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"Most police recognise that NZ Police is one of very few public agencies that has not had a cut to its budget. Our budget this year remains unchanged from that of last year."

Non-sworn police jobs are also under threat around New Zealand due to the establishment of centralised file management centres.

The centres aim to ease the burden on frontline staff and become a hub for processing the large amount of paperwork.

"What that will do is take a lot of bureaucracy and administrative tasks off staff from our frontline staff so they've got more time to be out there policing."

A centralised file management centre will be set up in Nelson for the Tasman police district.

While the centre would be based in Nelson, affected staff in Nelson were still part of that restructuring, Mr Chambers said.

- The Nelson Mail

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